LAHORE: Former Pakistan Test captain Wasim Akram celebrates his 55th birthday on June 3, Thursday, (today). Also known as ‘The Sultan of Swing’, Wasim was born on June 3rd, 1966 in Lahore. Regarded as one of the greatest left-arm fast bowlers in history, Wasim was at the top for almost two decades during which his famous whippy action brought him a record 916 international wickets for Pakistan. Making his Test debut against New Zealand in the beginning of 1985, Wasim needed just one match to make his mark. In only his second Test, he took 10 for 128 in Dunedin in 1985. He went one better on the 1994 tour, when he took 11 for 179 in Wellington. He played an important role in Pakistan’s only World Cup victory in 1992. He demolished England with two unforgettable deliveries, to Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis, in the World Cup final in Melbourne, each a definition of “unplayable.” In October 2013, Wasim was the only Pakistan cricketer to be named in an all-time Test World XI to mark the 150th anniversary of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. There are several outstanding aspects to Wasim’s international career, right from its sheer longevity ––– almost 19 years ––– to the amount of success he had in Tests and ODIs, with new ball and with old, with the red variety and the white. He was pretty handy with the bat ––– you’d have to be if your highest Test score is 257 not out against Zimbabwe ––- but it’s as a bowler of splendid and varied skills that Wasim will be remembered. He was the natural successor to Imran Khan as Pakistan’s leader and captain. Wasim holds the world record for most wickets in List A cricket with 881 and is second only to Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan in terms of ODI wickets with 502. He was born into an upper-middle-class family and was brought up in the comfortable suburb of Model Town. His father was a successful businessman, and Wasim was sent to the Cathedral School in Lahore, where his main sporting obsession was table tennis. From age 10 he lived with his grandparents, and his grandfather, a passionate cricket follower, introduced Wasim to the sport. He studied fine arts at Islamia College Lahore, but his success in local club cricket brought him to the attention of the state selectors and the international side. He made his first-class, ODI, and Test debuts within the space of three months at the turn of the 1984-85 season as a teenager, and, barring periods of injury or political upheaval, was thereafter a regular member of the Pakistan side, which he captained frequently before his retirement in 2003. Polite and eloquent, Wasim was a great favourite in all parts of the world, most notably in England, where he produced several devastating performances with both bat and ball for his county, Lancashire. Although his staccato run-up and hurried delivery stride betrayed the lack of proper coaching early in his career, his batting, always aggressive and often destructive put him firmly into the all-rounder class occupied by such greats as his mentor Imran Khan, Ian Botham of England, and Sir Richard Hadlee of New Zealand. As a bowler, Wasim was capable of moving the ball late both in the air and off the pitch with subtle changes of pace, and he had one of the most varied arsenals in cricket history, with inswing, outswing, yorkers, and bouncers being just some of the weapons at his disposal. He and his teammate Waqar Younis developed such overwhelming command of their revolutionary use of reverse swing that it prompted allegations of ball-tampering. In 1999 season Wasim captained Pakistan to the final of the World Cup, but inexperience emerged in their defeat by Australia. At the end of his career he had taken 414 wickets in Test cricket and 502 in ODIs. Wasim played five World Cups over his international career, and finished as the second-highest wicket-taker with 55, next only to Glenn McGrath’s haul of 71. And then there’s the small matter of Wasim the captain. In the 25 Tests in which he led Pakistan, they won 12 and lost eight, and his reign included a series win in England, and clinching the Asian Test Championship. His ODI record was impressive too: a win-loss ratio of 1.6, which is the joint-highest for any Pakistan captain who led in more than 50 games. Following retirement from the game, he became a cricket commentator. He is currently associated with the Pakistan Super League.